America’s Story

Elizabeth Warren tells progressives, ‘Our values are America’s values’ by Ned Resnikoff @resnikof,   AlJazeera.com, July 17, 2015

What the Declaration of Independence Really Claimed By Randy Barnett, Washington Post, July 4, 2015

Endless War and the Victory of ‘Perception Management’ By Robert Parry, Consortium News, December 30, 2014

We Will Need Writers Who Can Remember Freedom – Ursula Le Guin’s Viral Video by BillMoyers.com Staff, December 27, 2014      speech fully transcribed by Parker Higgins    YouTube    “I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries — the realists of a larger reality.”  Ursula Le Guin

False facts and the conservative distortion machine: It’s much more than just Fox News Paul Rosenberg, Salon.Com, Aug 18, 2014

The Myth of America’s Golden Age  By JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ, www.politico.com, July/August 2014

Your False-Equivalence Guide to the Days Ahead James Fallows, The Atlantic, Sep 27 2013  –A kind of politics we have not seen for more than 150 years…As a matter of journalism, any story that presents the disagreements as a “standoff,” a “showdown,” a “failure of leadership,” a sign of “partisan gridlock,” or any of the other usual terms for political disagreement, represents a failure of journalism and an inability to see or describe what is going on…This isn’t “gridlock.” It is a ferocious struggle within one party, between its traditionalists and its radical factions, with results that unfortunately can harm all the rest of us — and, should there be a debt default, could harm the rest of the world too.

Obama’s Inequality Speech: Telling the Progressive Story of American History by Ian Reifowitz, www.huffingtonpost.com 12/06/2013

How story of 2004 election hinged on one exit poll by Dick Meyer, sfgate.com, December 6, 2004

US Running on Myths, Lies, Deceptions and Distractions by John Atcheson Common Dreams, February 20, 2012

It’s Important to Know How the Stories We Tell Ourselves — True, or Not– Shape our World… for Better or Worse By Marty Kaplan, AlterNet, November 26, 2013  Real events do happen in the real world, but people can’t help trying to fit them into larger stories.  We love to connect the dots.  Storytelling isn’t some atavistic remnant of our pre-scientific past; it’s how our brains are hardwired…There’s no question facts will play a part in how we rate the deal, but there’s too much input bombarding us to process as data.  What will win the day isn’t the power of facts, but the power of one story or another to feel right – yes, an emotion; we will retroactively find the facts we need to make our path to that feeling seem rational. The public sphere is where competing storylines slug their way out, it’s where politicians, journalists, experts and yakkers connect the dots, find patterns and fashion narratives…This process is often accused of being powered by political ideology, moral bias, religious dogma or personal psychology, and all that may be true to some degree, but I think the underestimated driver is our innate need for narrative.  Once upon a time isn’t kid stuff; it’s species stuff. However, stories that feel right may be clueless about reality.  We are chronically required to revise the patterns we see in the past because we’re forced to absorb history’s hairpin turns.  At any given moment, there’s a fair chance that the stories we tell ourselves about the world are goofyWhen no one knows what comes next, the political advantage goes to the most powerful narrators.  When no one knows how things will end up, the same events can be construed as signposts toward tragedy or triumph…But as we lay odds on those outcomes, it’s useful to recall that the lessons of history are more art than science, and the art is the skill of the storyteller.

How the Media and the Elites, Not the Voters, Move the Country to the Right By Paul Rosenberg, Salon, November 19, 2013  …the notion that Christie’s a moderate is absurd…The media may eventually fall back to a more plausible take: that Christie, like George W. Bush before him, is a governing conservative, not a burn everything down conservative. It’s a distinction that’s not always easy to make…especially when the media helps out, as it did during 1999 and 2000, painting Bush as a bipartisan Washington outsider… Clinton definitely helped move the Democratic Party right…To begin with, the “move to the center” narrative is implicitly based on the “median voter” school of political science analysis, which paradoxically assumes that low-information median voters are the crucial drivers in U.S. politics, while at the same time assuming they’re sophisticated enough to move incrementally left or right, in careful calibration to how parties and candidate present themselves. … small groups with specific self-interested goals are more readily organized for political action than large groups representing broader, common interests. Political action of any sort requires an investment of time and energy, simply to understand what’s going onthere is much more for small special interests to gain by investing not just time and energy, but also pots of money — which is why blocks of big donors play a much larger role in determining the contours of political power, forming the de facto core of political parties… Democratic elites abandoned liberalism well before Clinton what actually happened — and continues even now — was a rightward shift of the entire political class, regardless of public opinion generally. The “center” elite journalists are talking about is not the center of public opinion, as it pretends to be, but rather, the self-referential center of elite opinion, which they are tasked with helping to construct, legitimate, normalize and ultimately present as existing without any conceivable alternative.  This is particularly true on economic issues, where the public is far to the left of both political partiesMeanwhile, back in reality, over this same time periodthe general public became steadily more liberal……  When Republicans, for various reasons, stopped being the party of balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility with the election of Ronald Reagan, they threw the everyday policy world into a period of prolonged, multifaceted chaos, as the decades-long pattern of rising average incomes came to an end. But elites of both parties were ultimately responding to a changing world, with rising new challenges from abroad and the rapid erosion of forces constraining them from below — which had never been all that strong to begin with.  Together, these are forces that both reflect and reinforce the rapidly growing phenomena of economic inequality — income, wealth and political purchasing power.   The left-right spectrum for median voters is increasingly more like a holographic projection cast down from on high by competing elites with the means to control the illusions presented to us as everyday politics, or more commonly, simply as spectacle. This is why, for example, there are very real parallels between Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, right alongside vast differences.…What’s most notable, for present purposes, is the complete lack of any GOP donor block that would work to steer the GOP “back to the center” in any sort of coherent way. It’s hardly surprising. The more unequal that wealth and power become, the less and less likely it is that any donor block on either side would act to move either party to the left — where the disenfranchised median voters of America have been left behind.

America’s War for Reality by Robert Parry,  January 15, 2013 by Consortium News The real struggle confronting the United States… is testing whether fact-based people have the same determination to fight for their real-world view as those who operate in a fact-free space do in defending their illusions.….Simply put, the Right fights harder for its fantasyland than the rest of America does for the real world. The American Right’s collective departure from reality can be traced back decades, but clearly accelerated with the emergence of former actor Ronald Reagan on the national stage. Even his admirers acknowledge that Reagan had a strained relationship with facts, preferring to illustrate his points with distorted or apocryphal anecdotes…The remarkable success of Reagan’s propaganda was a lesson not lost on a young generation of Republican operatives and the emerging neoconservatives who held key jobs in Reagan’s Central American and public-diplomacy operations, the likes of Elliott Abrams and Robert Kagan. The neocons’ devotion to imperialism abroad seemed to motivate their growing disdain for empiricism at home. Facts didn’t matter; results did…But this strategy wouldn’t have worked if not for gullible rank-and-file right-wingers who were manipulated by an endless series of false narratives. The Republican political pros manipulated the racial resentments of neo-Confederates, the religious zeal of fundamentalist Christians, and the free-market hero worship of Ayn Rand acolytes…That these techniques succeeded in a political system that guaranteed freedom of speech and the press was not only a testament to the skills of Republican operatives like Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. It was an indictment of America’s timid Center and the nation’s ineffectual Left. Simply put, the Right fought harder for its fantasyland than the rest of America did for the real world…This post-modern United States may have reached its nadir with George W. Bush’s presidency. In 2002-03, patently false claims were made about Iraq’s WMD and virtually no one in a position of power had the courage to challenge the lies. Deceived by Bush and the neocons – with the help of centrists like Colin Powell and the editors of the Washington Post – the nation lurched off into an aggressive war of choice. Sometimes, the Right’s contempt for reality was expressed openly. When author Ron Suskind interviewed members of the Bush administration in 2004, he encountered a withering contempt for people who refused to adjust to the new faith-based world.Citing an unnamed senior aide to George W. Bush, [author Ron] Suskind wrote: “The aide [to George W. Bush] said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ …“‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.…”… Election 2012, with Obama’s reelection and a general rejection of Tea Party fanaticism, has created the chance of a do-over for American rationalists. After all, the United States continues to see the consequences of three decades of right-wing delusions…Yet, if rational and pragmatic solutions are ever going to be applied to these problems, it is not just going to require that President Obama display more spine. The country is going to need its conscious inhabitants of the real world to stand up with at least the same determination as the deluded denizens of the made-up world.f course, this fight will be nasty and unpleasant. It will require resources, patience and toughness. But there is no other answer. Reality must be recovered and protected – if the planet and the children are to be saved.  

Even Right-Wingers Become Liberals When They Turn Off Fox News By Paul Rosenberg, Salon.com, November 8, 2013 …there is broad consensus across the boards on the basic contours of government spending priorities…It’s just that the center is not where it’s supposed to be: It’s not somewhere in between the two parties, it’s well to the left of the Democrats in D.C. If you look at how much liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans agree with one another — regardless of the positions they take — you come up with figures for a cross-ideological consensus…the big picture was strikingly clear….nobody ever asks the public what they want in ways that allow them to articulate a coherent vision… the bottom line boils down to this…The real polarization in American politics is a split between symbolic conservative intuitions on the one hand, and pragmatic liberal facts on the other…The more informed that people become, the closer they are to the problems that need solving, the more liberal they become…Sober facts bring us together. Unchecked fantasies drive us apart…We need facts now, more than ever, to get our country — and our government — working again.

The Fascinating Story of How Shameless Right-Wing Lies Came to Rule Our Politics By Rick Perlstein, article first appeared in Mother Jones posted on Alternet.org, May 26, 2011 – It takes two things to make a political lie work: a powerful person or institution willing to utter it, and another set of powerful institutions to amplify it. The former has always been with us…So why does it seem as if we’re living in a time of overwhelmingly brazen deception? What’s changed?…a network of media enablers helps it to make a sound — until enough people believe the untruth to make the lie an operative part of our political discourse. …right-wing ideologues “lie without consequence,” as a desperate Vincent Foster put it in his suicide note nearly two decades ago. But they only succeed because they are amplified by “balanced” outlets that frame each smear as just another he-said-she-said “controversy.”…What’s new is the way the liars and their enablers now work hand in glove. That I call a mendocracy, and it is the regime that governs us now.

Why Are Americans So Easy to Manipulate and Control? By Bruce E. Levine, AlterNet, October 11, 2012 The corporatization of society requires a population that accepts control by authorities, and so when psychologists and psychiatrists began providing techniques that could control people, the corporatocracy embraced mental health professionals.…[Noam Chomsky and Lewis Mumford said] society ruled by benevolent control freaks—was antithetical to democracy…Behaviorism and consumerism, two ideologies which achieved tremendous power in the twentieth century, are cut from the same cloth. The shopper, the student, the worker, and the voter are all seen by consumerism and behaviorism the same way: passive, conditionable objects…, there is an insidious incentive for control-freaks in society…The Anti-Democratic Nature of Behavior Modification – Behavior modification is fundamentally a means of controlling people and thus for Kohn, “by its nature inimical to democracy, critical questioning, and the free exchange of ideas among equal participants.”…In democracy, citizens are free to think for themselves and explore, and are motivated by very real—not phantom—intrinsic forces, including curiosity and a desire for justice, community, and solidarity. What is also scary about behaviorists is that their external controls can destroy intrinsic forces of our humanity that are necessary for a democratic society.…Behavior modification can also destroy our intrinsic desire for compassion, which is necessary for a democratic society…How, in a democratic society, do children become ethical and caring adults? They need a history of being cared about, taken seriously, and respected, which they can model and reciprocate…

The Con­sti­tu­tion is inher­ently pro­gres­sive by John Podesta and John Halpin, Politico.com, Octo­ber 10, 2011 - Pro­gres­sives dis­agree strongly with tea party views on gov­ern­ment, tax­a­tion, pub­lic spend­ing, reg­u­la­tions and social wel­fare poli­cies……As pro­gres­sives, we believe in using the inge­nu­ity of the pri­vate sec­tor and the pos­i­tive power of gov­ern­ment to advance com­mon pur­poses and increase free­dom and oppor­tu­nity…Cou­pled with basic beliefs in fair play, open­ness, coop­er­a­tion and human dig­nity, it is this pro­gres­sive vision that in the past cen­tury helped build the strongest econ­omy in his­tory and allowed mil­lions to move out of poverty and into the mid­dle class. It is the basis for Amer­i­can peace and pros­per­ity as well as greater global coop­er­a­tion in the post­war era…Our orig­i­nal Con­sti­tu­tion was not per­fect. It wrote women and minori­ties out and con­doned an abhor­rent sys­tem of slav­ery. But the story of Amer­ica has also been the story of a good nation, con­ceived in lib­erty and equal­ity, even­tu­ally wel­com­ing every Amer­i­can into the arms of democ­racy, pro­tect­ing their free­doms and expand­ing their eco­nomic opportunities…


 

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